The Importance of the Home Exercise Program

Oct 29, 2018

Melissa Miller

by Melissa Miller
PTA | Downtown Phoenix Location

A home exercise program (HEP) is one of the most important aspects of physical therapy. This is an individualized set of therapeutic exercises that a patient is given in physical therapy to complete on their own at home.
A HEP is given to a patient during their initial evaluation. The patient will go through each exercise with their physical therapist (PT) so the PT can ensure they have the proper form and are experiencing no pain with the exercises.
The HEP is advanced throughout the rehab duration as the patient tolerates. This program eventually leads to support the transition from physical therapy appointments to the patient performing these exercises at home on their own.
Compliance throughout a patient’s rehab is very important. Many patients find it hard to stay consistent with a HEP because of their busy lives. Commitments like work, family, and school can make it difficult for a patient to complete their HEP. But, a patient needs to consistently complete their HEP to have a successful overall rehab experience.
Here are just a few reasons why completing a HEP is important:

  1. Home exercises can help improve muscle memory. This muscle memory is helpful when new exercises are added during your rehab sessions.
  2. Research shows patients who comply with a HEP are significantly more successful at achieving rehab goals like regaining physical function. They also tend to experience relief from pain more quickly.
  3. Home exercises can be the beginning of a new active lifestyle.
  4. Home exercise compliance can also help prevent recurrent injury or flare-ups later on.

Research shows only 35% of physical therapy patients comply with their HEP. There are many reasons for this: lack of motivation, limited time, and perceived barriers to exercise are just a few examples. However, there are some strategies that we as therapists can use with our patients to ensure HEP compliance.

  1. Educate your patients on the importance of their HEP and how it can impact their goals.
  2. Ask your patient about their schedule and encourage them to find a time to fit in their HEP in their day.
  3. You can also suggest that the patient breaks up their HEP routine into multiple 15-minute exercise sessions throughout the day.
  4. Have your patient track their progress. This can help provide a sense of accomplishment, control, and confidence.
  5. Encourage patients to focus on their goals. Achieving just one goal can help them gain momentum to continue with more the following week.
  6. Checking in with patients and being available via phone can support a patient’s HEP goals.

Investing in a patient’s recovery can keep them more plugged in with their rehab. Patients need to feel confident with their HEP so they feel comfortable consistently performing the exercises.
As a patient, it is important your exercises are pain-free — inform your therapist if they are not. Your therapist can tailor the exercises to ensure proper form and technique is in place to avoid any pain or discomfort. It is our jobs as physical therapists to educate our patients on their condition and give them the tools such as a HEP to help prevent and manage their condition.
If you’re looking for an Arizona physical therapy clinic, find a Foothills Sports Medicine location near you.

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